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Back Catalogue: Beyond Good and Evil

BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL

What is it about?

Beyond Good and Evil (BG&E) is a third-person sci-fi action adventure game set in the visual treat that is planet Hillys. You’re cast as Jade aka Shauni, a peppy young woman who is a photographic reporter by profession. The planet Hillys comes under a sudden invasion from an alien nemesis, the Domz. Jade and her talking-giant-pig uncle, Pey’j, while on a mission for the secret network IRIS, discover a shocking conspiracy behind the Domz invasion. The Alpha Section, the elite division of the Hillian Army, is somehow patronising the Domz onslaught, yet pretending to side with the Hillians in public view.

Why should I play it now?

Jade may just be a photo-reporter, but she has more than just a camera in her repertoire. You complete missions for the IRIS network as special agent Shauni and get sucked into side missions to collect pearls. While you’re at it, you get to fight monsters, compete in hover-craft races, clear platforming-puzzle sections, infiltrate Alpha Section strongholds in classic stealth agent style, pilot a super-slick spacecraft and, of course, take snaps of all the flora and fauna on planet Hillys. The game features an open world environment full of life and there’s fun to be had literally every corner you decide to snoop around.

How does it hold up today?

Considering that it was released in 2003, the game holds up impressively, courtesy of the artistic portrayal of Hillys. The textures stand out and look rather pleasing even by today’s standards. The framerate, however, might not be as consistent as one would expect because of compatibility issues. The soundtrack is lively and perfectly complements the tone of the game. All is not swell though; there are certain aspects of the game, like the tail-wiggling sea monster battles, where you’ll need to grind your way to progress, and it can get frustrating.

If you don’t own a PC, then you might want to consider the HD version of the game on XBLA or PSN. The HD version benefits from richer textures and smoother framerates; a much better option compared to the PS2 version.

Is it similar to anything else out there?

Almost every aspect of Beyond Good and Evil feels like it has drawn inspiration from one game or the other. For instance, the platforming and puzzle sections hint at Prince of Persia, while the combat is reminiscent of Oni. The hover-craft races are wipeout-esque and the stealth sequences feel like Mario meets splinter cell (now that’s something). But when you look at it as a package, the game offers a unique and unrivalled experience.

What do I need to play this?

Developed by Ubisoft, the game was a hardware hog back in the day and requires a 1.3 Ghz processor, 256 MB of RAM, a DirectX 9 compatible 64 MB Graphics card and Windows 2000 or better. I realise that those are closer to mobile phone specs these days. But, if you own a PS2 or Xbox 360 or PS3, you needn’t worry about any of that.

‘When I played through…’

I had to spend several hours just to get the game running in a playable state. Texture corruption issues and framerate drops were omnipresent. But once I gained control to a certain extent, it turned out to be a joyful experience. This is one of those games where the more the time you spend with it, the more it grows on you. In the end, I ended up getting thoroughly engrossed in the game world. Very few games have done that to me, and this is one of them. The plot turned out to be obvious, but still had that magic factor going for it. However, one aspect that didn’t really gel with me was that the game pretty much imposes most of the side missions by means of a hefty pearl requirement to proceed with the final mission. Thankfully, a bit of a grind did not mar my otherwise gleeful experience with BGAE.

Is there anything else I should be aware of (ie mods, crazy glitches, contribution to pop culture, Internet meme, etc)?

The game had horrible texture corruption and framerate issues on Windows 7. After an extensive solution search, I found that turning off ‘HW Vertex Processing’, ‘Multi Vertex Stream’, ‘W buffer’ and ‘Autogen mipmap’ did away with most of the texture corruption issues. Sadly, the framerate while on the hovercraft was never perfect and I had I had to settle for that. If you’re planning to get the PS2 version or the HD version, you wouldn’t have to go through all this trouble though. Apart from that, the game has a bug ridden camera that can get out of hand when things get claustrophobic.

Where do I get it?

Physical copies of both the PS2 and PC versions are near impossible to hunt down. If you’re looking to get the game on the PC, both Steam and GOG offer the game for 9.99$. But GOG is a better deal since it’s DRM free. Current gen console owners can also join the party with the HD version of the game being priced at 800 Microsoft Points on XBLA and around Rs.600 on PSN.

If you’re feeling lucky, then we’ve got codes for Beyond Good and Evil to give away courtesy GOG. Simply post your views on this Back Catalogue feature in the comments section below, or just let us know that you’d like a code (we’re nice like that).

Let us know what you think of our Back Catalogue retrospective feature, or tell us which classic games you’d like to see featured in the future in the comments section below or in the corresponding discussion thread at the IVG community forums.

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